Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Winning Summers: Sacramento's Summer Youth Program Works for Parks and Kids

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Winning Summers: Sacramento's Summer Youth Program Works for Parks and Kids

Article excerpt

During an eight-week span in the summer of 2010, 33 members of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) collaborated closely with each other and worked tirelessly to positively impact their surrounding community in Sacramento, California. The SYEP provided high-risk high school students with income and tools to succeed in life, increased facilities and programming opportunities at Howe Park, and inspired and strengthened community. Students invested their time learning occupational, employment, and social skills leading to personal growth and community service. Through the combined efforts and partnership of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), and Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District (FEC), this program was made possible and achieved multifaceted success.

How It Came Together

The formation of this program required intense planning and coordination. In April 2009, SETA awarded SCOE LINKS Student Programs' proposal for a Community Service and Neighborhood Beautification Program, called the SYEP, with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Stimulus Funds for two summer programs (2009 and '10). During the second year of funding, SCOE had its experienced management team in place and more lead-time to focus on a larger project. Last February, SCOE SYEP coordinators approached FEC with an opportunity to partner.

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FEC and SCOE worked closely to identify "shovel-ready" service learning projects. Pinpointing the skills and materials needed, and sequencing task activities to accomplish the projects was tricky at times. After months of planning and project refinement, FEC and SCOE finalized five projects: a small dog park; informational kiosks; patio benches; bench, bridge, and picnic table refinishing; and parking-lot median re-landscaping. In eight weeks much needed improvements to Howe Park were completed at minimal cost to FEC. SETA awarded $100,169 for this SYEP, $46,169 for program management and supportive services and $54,000 for student wages. SCOE LINKS program contributed in-kind services valued at $14,000 for a teacher and additional supervision. FEC provided $16,122 for materials, equipment rental support, and staff assistance.

Participation in this SYEP was fiercely competitive. The hiring process included eligibility, certification, and panel interviews. In April and May 2010 outreach and recruitment events took place at SCOE Court, Community Schools, and Special Education campuses. …

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